Turtle dove “at risk” with spring hunting season opening tomorrow – BLM

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Turtle dove "at risk" with spring hunting season opening tomorrow - BLMThis year’s spring hunting season opens tomorrow – Easter Sunday until Saturday, the 21st of April, for quail only.

BirdLife Malta in a statement has said that an Ornis Committee meeting usually held ahead of the start of every season on enforcement, was this week called off at the last minute due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

It said that during this meeting committee members would have been briefed and provided logistical feedback number of licences granted and on the levels of enforcement planned for the upcoming season in terms of police deployment across Malta and Gozo and requests by BirdLife Malta to be given data remain unanswered, it said.

BirdLife Malta added that the decision by the Government to push this year’s season dates to April “puts this vulnerable species at great risk of being hunted, whilst also putting the Maltese Government at risk of being subjected once again to infringement action by the European Commission over the opening of a spring hunting season.”

The NGO said that, as from tomorrow, hunting will be permitted from two hours before sunrise until noon for every day of the season. Only those who are issued with a Special Spring Hunting Licence for 2018 will be permitted to hunt for Quail during the season.

While a maximum of 5,000 Common Quail can be hunted with a daily bag limit of five Quails and a seasonal bag limit of ten Quails per hunter.
Turtle dove "at risk" with spring hunting season opening tomorrow - BLMHowever, also this afternoon the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights Clint Camilleri, has also issued a statement, saying that 6,754 licenses have been issued, together with this were printed details – as above –  of the “minimum enforcement” for the spring hunting season, with 7 officers noted for Gozo during hunting hours in the “open season.”

He reminded hunters that the season is for quail only, and that spot checks would be carried out, with strict enforcement during this period.

He also called on hunters to keep to the rules and conditions of the special license, including to immediately report any quail that they shoot. Clint Camilleri said that apart from Police, the WBRU will also out patrolling to assist in enforcement.

According to BirdLife, “hunters across the country have already been observed clearing their hunting hides which is a clear indication of what is in store for the next three weeks.”

“Quail hunting does not require the use of hides, with hunters instead having to actively search for their game on the ground rather than sitting in hides waiting for them to fly over as with Turtle Doves,” it said.

With the help of a team of local and international volunteers, BirdLife Malta said that it “will be as usual monitoring this year’s controversial spring hunting season through its annual Spring Watch camp.”

BirdLife Malta said that with this year’s spring hunting season dates coinciding with peak Turtle Dove migration, during the weeks preceding the start of the season it launched a campaign #NotAQuail to raise awareness among the public on how to identify and report any illegal hunting, particularly on Turtle Dove.

It has designed a video to explain “all that is needed to know about the very evident differences and characteristics between these two bird species.”

The Turtle Dove the Quail are two bird species with very different features from one another and which make them easy to distinguish in terms of appearance, flight patterns, hunting and luring methods, BirdLife Malta said.

It said that any illegalities or shot birds witnessed should be reported to the police on 119 and to the NGO by calling 2134 7645/6 during office hours and on their hotline 7925 5697 (strictly only for wildlife crime emergencies) during evenings and weekends.

Photo: “Illegally shot Turtle Dove” (Photo by CABS)

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